If Oregon can do it, why can’t we?

This Friday, I’m off to the airport for a relaxing week in my favorite state, Oregon, which means all of my devoted blog readers (hi, Mom and Grandma) will either have to tough it out or get their fix from Steve and Jodi.

I am absolutely in heart with Oregon. With its gorgeous coastline (I saw a seal and a bald eagle. In real life. As in, not in a zoo.), its relaxed atmosphere (even in the city!) and the endless bounty of food from the sea (I get a year’s worth of omega-3s when I go to Oregon), what’s not to love?!?

However, there’s one thing that outshines all of Oregon’s wonderful aspects: The state’s commitment to going green. I was unaware of how serious they are about their carbon footprint until I encountered a toilet in the Portland airport. It was a toilet featuring a neon green handle (which, a sign told me, was coated to protect against germs) that you push UP if you have, um, not done that much, for a reduced-water flush, and DOWN for a normal water flush.

Besides their spiffy toilets, Oregon is all about homes AND businesses using renewable power, such as solar energy. An article from OregonLive.com reported that business are drinking the Kool-Aid and hopping on the solar energy bandwagon, thanks to tax breaks and cash rebates:

“A business can recoup an investment in a million-dollar array in five years, then post thousands of dollars annually in electricity savings. A little extra icing: the installations are exempt from property taxes through 2012…

Nonprofits and government entities are equally enthusiastic. They’re allowed to transfer the incentives to investors on the hunt for tax breaks, then put up a solar array for little, if any, out-of-pocket expense.”

According to the article, Oregon officials expect the amount of solar-electric power in the state to jump more than eight-fold in 2008.

And it’s not just solar energy; everywhere you look, there are people carrying reusable sacks out of farmer’s markets and shops (supporting local businesses is HUGE there); restaurants informing you that the food they use is organic and locally grown; people toting around aluminum or steel water bottles instead of evil plastic ones; eco-friendlier dry cleaners; people taking public transportation, biking or walking… the list goes on.

To me, the air there is cleaner and fresher smelling, the people are friendlier and more relaxed and the atmosphere is just, well, different. As an outsider, it looks to me like the state seems to have banded together to create a healthier, cleaner, more aware environment.

As someone who lives in Arizona and has to regularly breathe in the smog-infested air, this type of green living is extremely appealing to me. I think each state should take a page out Oregon’s playbook. Again, like the last post, I know it sounds cheesy, but I really think that we, as a country, could really make a huge difference if we just put in the time and effort. It would have a noticeable effect on our businesses, our homes and our lives. It’s already been made clear that we’re aware that there IS a problem, so let’s do something to fix it.

Rebecca Cannon
Production editor, is a recent college graduate and fairly new to the natural products industry. With a degree in English from Millersville University, Pennsylvania and a love for all things processed, she had no idea that she would be mired in a world of words like natural and organic. Begrudgingly, Rebecca has been slowly putting aside all her body- and environmentally-damaging products that she holds dear, and opting for a life of better health and greener living.